The time has come friends; we can finally print Epson DTG on 100% polyester garments. The process is similar to printing on cotton but there are definitely a few differences. I will address them in this article.
What is Needed:
Ink: Poly pretreat will work with either the Epson F2000 or F2100 as long as your printer is running Epson UltraChrome Ink.
Pretreat Machine: Epson Polyester Pretreat Solution is much thicker than standard Cotton Pretreat solution. This means the pump in your pretreat machine must be strong enough to spray a consistent pattern from edge to edge of the shirt.
Pretreat Solution: Of course, you need to order the Poly Pretreat solutions. This comes in an 18L box directly from Epson distribution. Unlike Cotton Pretreat, Poly Pretreat is not diluted when printing on dark garments. You can purchase on Shopmelco.com
Poly Pretreat Workflow:
Prepare the Pretreat Solution: Poly Pretreat must be agitated prior to use. The solution is thick and will settle. To ensure proper mixture and coverage, be sure to shake the solution in all directions for a minute or so prior to use.
If printing directly on a dark polyester garment use 100% concentrate.
If printing on a light colored polyester garment with no white ink, dilute with 6 parts distilled water to 1 part Poly Pretreat.
Applying Pretreat Solution: You must use a pretreat machine to apply Poly Pretreat. In the past we could apply cotton pretreat with a manual roller method, that method will not work with on polyester. You could try a Wagner power sprayer however I have not tested this method.
Ensure your pretreat machine is clean and has a wide angle spray pattern. You might benefit from a wider angle pretreat nozzle, contact your pretreat machine manufacturer for suggestions.
Apply Poly Pretreat the same way you would apply cotton pretreat, covering the whole portion of the garment that is going to be printed. Any sparse or patchy areas will likely effect the print. Pretreat application is as important as any other step. Make sure you have full and consistent coverage before you dry and go to print.
Drying Wet Pretreated Shirts:
Pretreated shirts must be 100% dry and heat pressed for a few seconds before you print.
Use a conveyor dryer or heat press. There is no correct amount of time to cure a pretreated shirt as long as the shirt is completely dry. I always open the shirt and feel the inside of the top layer. If the inside is dry, the outside is dry.
One note not to over heat polyester garments in either the heat press or conveyor dryer. Synthetic materials can melt with over heating so be careful.
Conveyor Dryer Settings: Do a few tests but typically we’re running around 350°. Try to time the best so the shirt comes out just very slightly damp. This way you can finish on the heat press and smash any rogue fibers and ensure a 100% cure.
Heat Press Settings: Use parchment paper and heat press at 285° until dry with medium pressure around 3-4.
Choosing and Loading Poly Garments: Like cotton blanks, the higher quality the material is the better the results will be. Gildan will work, however you will likely see better results from Nike and higher end poly brands.
Typically poly garments are very loose weave, therefore ink will fall through the fabric. I always thread the shirt and clean the platen after every few prints. It is not recommended to use the Epson Non-Stick Pad when printing poly garments.
Garment Creator Recommendations:
Using White Ink Underbase: Do not use too much white ink. Too much white will result in poor washability, increased cost and lower productivity. You must adjust your expectations when printing on poly. Colors will not be as bright as on cotton. The solution is not to add more white. If extreme vibrancy is needed on a poly garment, DTG might not be the correct applicaiton.
F2000 Print Quality: Level 1
F2100 Print Quality: Level 4 or 5
Ink Density: White +25%, Color +25%
Curing Polyester Garments:
Heat press should be set to 285°
Place parchment paper and hover or 0 pressure for 30 seconds.
Then press for 90 seconds with light pressure if using white ink and 45 seconds if using color only.
Conveyor dryer settings should be around 340° for about 165 seconds. Check the heat of the garment with a laser temp gun to ensure the garment is curing at 265° through the whole tunnel.
A few notes:Your garment will feel sticky after the print. This is the glycerin in the ink that is not absorbed by the fabric. 1 wash and the feel will wash away.
Some pretreat staining may occur and will wash away in cold water.
Use Poly Pretreat on 100% polyester garments only. Blended garments should use Epson Cotton Pretreat Solution.
Be sure to watch our Epson training videos on the Melco YouTube Channel and feel free to reach out with any questions. Jledrew@melco.com